The Inside Out – February 2017 Column

At the Tallgrass Writing Workshop last year in Emporia, Kansas, author Max McCoy said, “Write from the inside out,” during his presentation about mystery writing. When I reread my notes later, the first thing that came to me was that we should live from the inside out.

Max was saying that in mystery writing you have to know the nuances of the story – where you’re going with it. While we can’t know all the twists and turns life will present to us, it is helpful to have an idea of where we’d like to go.

Admittedly, this is not easy work. Knowing ourselves, our motivations, our weaknesses and the events from the past that affect us today is a tall order.  But I think it’s a worthy one. It often means facing things we would rather keep hidden, even from ourselves. Perhaps most diligently from ourselves.

But when we know ourselves inside out, we are able to look at the world through a less cloudy lens. We can question our reactions because we understand our motivations.

One of the things I know about myself is that I have a drive to create. Sometimes that happens with words, sometimes with paint, sometimes with occasions. In all of these things it’s about creating a connection.

I am confident that connection is one of the most important tasks we have in our lives. What other purpose do we have?

We learn about ourselves by interacting with others. We observe how they respond to things and ponder the applications for our own lives. It’s possible because of the connections we have built.

One of the things often with us when we’re making connections with other people is food. From birthday cakes to family celebrations to lunches with friends, food gives us a way to build traditions and make memories. Our recipe this month is one I’ve shared with friends many times over the years. You can whip it up in just a few minutes and it cooks in the microwave.

Brownies

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
Salt to taste
1/2 cup nuts, optional

In mixer beat eggs, blend in sugar and melted butter. Add flour, cocoa and salt and mix. Stir in vanilla and nuts.

Pour into ungreased microwave safe dish. I use an 8 by 8 glass dish but a glass pie plate will do, too.

Microwave at medium (50%) for 6 minutes. Turn quarter turn and microwave at 100% for 1-3 minutes until mixture begins to dry on top.